February 8, 2012

Windows Phone 7. What’s missing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ian @ 11:29 am

I’ve a bunch of phones. There’s the iPhone of course and some Android phones and a lowly WinPhone which doesn’t get used ever. This is a shame because WP7 is pretty good. It should be my favourite because I can develop software for it far more easily than I can for the other platforms.

So why does it languish in a drawer? What is it missing? I’ve made a list.

1) Hardware
My first foray into WP7 territory was with a cheap HTC WinPhone. The thing that struck me was how long applications took to load. I had never before realised this might be a problem, but suddenly I was waiting over a minute for a game to load. This is a deal breaker for someone who uses their phone in elevators. Seriously, if I saw that in a demo in a store against any Apple or Android phone I would put the WinPhone back on the shelf immediately.

2) Expansion
Microsoft have a funny idea about expansion. Apple want everything on the cloud, I don’t as the cloud doesn’t reach my train, tube, elevator, office. Give me a little SD slot. Oh and I’d like to be able to put a card in it without having to take the battery out please.

3) Extra hardware
Apple has this so right at the moment. I was on FireBox.Com a moment ago and there are 81 iPad accessories on sale. I can control my iPhone with my car. My alarm clock, digital photo frame and hifi have iphone docks. This is a huge area to get right. Apple can do this largely by controlling the range of phones. You basically have one size to fit your gadget to each generation. Microsofft can’t do that (see point 4) but they can make things easier. Once I can buy an adaptor which will connect the WinPhone to my car through a single connection on the phone, then we have a bit of a win. I’m not talking running a cable from headphone socket to audio in. I want proper digital out and control of the basic music functions and preferably the phone. I get most of that on a gadget that cost me 10quid for the iPhone.

4) Hardware variety. It’s all a bit of a disaster at the moment. There’s the high end Lumia 800 its little brother, and… Well some low end HTC boxes. I have a flock of Android phones. One has a 3d display (LG), another is like a small 5″ tablet (Sammy Note). They all look better, perform better and fill a need that WP7 isn’t.

5) Software
I don’t like the cloud. It is never available when I need it, that’s what happens when you live in the present instead of some Jobsian future. Give me practical software that makes online available offline and use this as a usp. The OS itself has potential, but who the heck designed the UI? Playing with it I spent way too much time flicking left and right and hunting around for the app I wanted. My iPhone has 20 apps on one screen, and 16 of those can be folders each holding another 16. The Android phones vary, but they all beat the iphone let alone the WP7 phone. It doesn’t feel like they designed it as something to live with, rather as something to use as a concept. Great for demos, rubbish every day.

6) Fundamentals
And last but clearly not least. Don’t forget it’s a phone. I’ll have it in my pocket for a day and I will want to comfortably get through a minimum of 36 hours without needing to charge it. Almost all the Android phones I have are afflicted in some way by dodgy battery life. the Iphone is the only one to get this right. It is the gold standard. Then remember I want to make calls to people in my contacts list, and send SMS messages. Both those should be very easy to do. Finally I want to know what time it is. Seriously, who wears a watch any more? Everyone I know uses their phone. Oh and harking back to a previous post. Shutdown and start up should be SILENT. Especially Shutdown.


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